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Encephalartos villosus

   (Family: Zamiaceae)
English: Poor man's cycad  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 0.4m
Spread: 0.3m
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred position:
Tolerated soil:  
  Sand (coarse texture, drains easily)
Flowering time EDIT
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf texture Smooth
Leaf size 03000mm
  Leaf info EDIT
  The young leaves are densely covered with white hairs. The mature leaves are dark green, glossy and lighter green on the underside of the leaves. The leaves are 1.5 to 3 m long, with the median leaflets ranging from 150 to 250 mm in length. The width of the leaflets are 15 to 20 mm.
Fruit colour
Seed colour
  Seed info EDIT
  This species produces 1 to 4 cones on the female plants. The male cones are lemon-yellow, 600-700 x 120-150 mm, and can bear up to 5 cones. When mature, the male cone exudes an unpleasant odour. The female cone is a deep yellow, 300-500 x 200-250 mm. The seeds are dark red.
Description EDIT
One of the most common ornamental dwarf cycads in southern Africa.
It is shade-loving and produces leaves which spread out gracefully, with glossy dark green leaflets.

This species is often found growing in clusters and the stem is usually subterranean. If a stem develops above ground, it may grow to a height of up to 0.4 m and a diameter of 250 mm, with the occasional sucker.
Growing EDIT
This species is a fast grower and in 5 to 8 years will develop into a substantial plant.

This species responds well to cultivation provided it is grown in light shade, is well drained, with sufficient moisture in frost-free conditions.

It is best to grow young seedlings on until the leaves are about a metre high before planting in the open ground. Dig a hole half a metre square and deep. Half fill the hole with well-matured compost, add a cup of bone meal and organic fertilizer. Mix well in the hole and then plant the cycad so that the growing point is just above the level of the ground. As far as pests are concerned, scale insects could be a problem and need to be treated with an oil based insecticide.
Distribution EDIT
This species occurs from East London in the Eastern Cape extending eastwards through the Transkei, KwaZulu-Natal and as far as Swaziland. It is by far the most widespread species of Encephalartos in southern Africa The plants grow in forests and sheltered areas with a rainfall ranging from 900 to 1 300 mm a year in the summer months.
History EDIT
In the 1800s this species was exported in large numbers and can be found growing in many conservatories in Europe.
Ecology EDIT
The dark red seeds attract birds such as the Purple-crested lourie and the Trumpeter hornbill. In KwaZulu-Natal, young seedlings are found in abundance growing on the steep, forested slopes which are obviously distributed by these birds.
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